Monday, March 06, 2006

Twenty One and a Half at Solitude Resort

Adventure Report: Adam Barker lays it all on the line...and lives to tell the tale

"I thought these gloves were supposed to be breathable". That'’s all I could think about as I stood atop the line that I believed was sure to end my mortal life. Shot 21 ½ at Solitude Mountain Resort had been calling my name ever since the vertiginous ribbon of rock received enough snow on it to be skied safely. Heh - "safety" is such a relative term.

"What good does a helmet do for your internal organs?"”

"Wow, those rocks look mighty sharp. Wouldn't they just like to chew on a shaking leg or two." Solitude Mountain Resort - steep powder skiing

More thoughts of potential disaster flowed through my brain. And then - calm. As I drop in, I immediately feel the exposure. Staying focused on each turn is difficult, as a mental neon light flashes across my field of vision "No-Fall Zone..click, click...No-Fall Zone". I weasel my way through (and over) some hidden sharks at the top, and then I'’m locked in and in it to win it. Slough is moving all around me, breathing down my neck, threatening to knock me off my feet and into the white abyss to my left. I feel confined, wondering how a space can look so much wider from across the canyon.

I arrive at the top of the mandatory exit air and am perplexed to find the 5-footer I had scoped earlier just went through a growth spurt. Three feet to my right appears to be the edge of the world.

"Maybe the earth really is flat? Are these gloves breathing yet?!"

A rocky takeoff and landing spell d-e-a-t-h. Confidence is key here, but I think I left it three turns up. There'’s no pussy-footing this air. I count to three and point 'em’. The ground leaves my feet, the air leaves my lungs, and for a moment - —I'’m freefalling. The steep landing arrives quickly, and before I know it, I'm doing mach looney - struggling not to cross over the space/time continuum and melt into utter disaster altogether. I steer my skis through the exit chute, frantically looking for a place to dump some speed. I find it unexpectedly as my skis hit a pile of slough, promptly sending me into a violent cartoon-like melee of cartwheels and frontflips. Limbs and saliva fly everywhere, and all of a sudden, —breathable gloves lose all importance. Weird.

As I tumble to a stop, I can'’t help but smile and laugh. I'm safe. I did it, and I'’m safe. While my exit was akin to that of a Courtney Love concert, I made it. I proceed to pull snow out of every hole in my face and hike up to my skis.

Note to anyone looking to push their limits: Invest in breathable gloves. Your palms will sweat.

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